Water spills at Douglas Dam

Feb. 04, 2013 @ 11:58 PM

If you drive by Douglas Dam in the next few days, you might notice something odd.

Water has been flowing through the spillway gates on the top of the dam, instead of through the turbines, since Sunday due to the high volume of precipitation from January’s weather and some electrical equipment that has caused a generator unit to stop working, a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) spokesman said.

“The big job in the winter is to store water, and they did that well in January,” Brickey said, “but there’s been so much excess water that we have to spill that water over.”

Brickey said the dam’s water elevation goes through an annual cycle. The water is kept at its highest level during the summertime, but after Labor Day, the water elevation is lowered to create space for rain and runoff that accumulates the most during the wintertime.

Normally, the four generator units would be able to push through the necessary amount of water to maintain the right water level, even following the third-wettest January in TVA history, Brickey said, but the faulty electrical equipment caused them to shut off the generator tied to the equipment.

“Because we had to turn that unit off, the same amount of water that would normally come through is now going through the spillways,” Brickey said. “It’s the same amount of water, just the way of doing it is different.”

Brickey said this is the first time they’ve spilled water at Douglas Damn since 2004.

Brickey did not know exactly what kind of repairs were being made to the electrical equipment or when they would be completed, but he said it was common for this kind of machinery to need repair every so often, and that the water spilling should not cause alarm.

“It doesn’t happen very often (at Douglas Dam), but it’s not a bad thing,” Brickey said. “It’s like a waterfall.”

rhargett@themountainpress.com